Okay, so much for lovely memories, it's back to ugly reality and reality seems to be the one thing this country has been avoiding, but we can’t continue to pull the shades over our eyes for much longer. Banks and brokerage houses are failing all around us. Trillions of dollars in bailout money has been added to the nation’s debt burden, families too numerous to count are being driven from their homes. Maybe it’s time to get back to the basics – like good jobs, the primary component of a sustainable family life. But our economy is never going to be anywhere near what it needs to be until this country figures out how to provide work at a decent pay for at least most of the men and women who want to work.
The amount of debt for the typical middle-income family, earning about $45,000, grew by a third from 2001-2004, according to the Center for American Progress. The reason for all this added debt was the rising cost of housing, higher education, health care and transportation. At the same time, wages grew just slightly, if at all. It’s going to take more than work, obviously and don’t even ask about the debt burden of the federal government.
The fact is that there haven’t been enough good paying jobs to sustain what most working Americans view as an adequate standard of living and that is the fundamental flaw in the U.S. economic system. This latest financial meltdown has created widespread outrage over the excessive compensation of top executives, so where have we been??? The rich have been running the table for the better part of the last 30 to 40 years! The earnings of the average men in their 30s have remained almost flat for the past four decades, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Accordingly, disaster was avoided by the wives and mothers entering the workplace and by embracing huge amounts of debt for everything from home mortgages, cars, clothing and vacations to food, college tuition and medical expenses. And guess what? The middle-class and working families are up against the wall and the only way to continue financing a reasonable quality of life is through a paycheck. But nearly 160,000 jobs were lost in September alone. More than three-quarters of a million have vanished over the past nine months.
According to people who know a lot more than I do, the economy won’t be saved by bailing out Wall Street and waiting for that day that never comes, when the benefits trickle down to ordinary Americans. It won’t be saved until we get serious about putting vast numbers of Americans back to work in jobs that are reasonably secure and pay a sustaining wage.
We have a lot of rebuilding to do; we need to put more of us to work rebuilding our country’s collapsing infrastructure, revitalize the public school system, working to create more energy self-sufficiency and try, for a change, to do a re-take on an economy that still leans strongly in favor of the rich.
Now, let’s hear the politicians talk about that for a while and stop the name calling and slander, the “it’s all about” me and “he’s the bad guy” crap and start working together to redeem this country before it’s too late – for us – you know, the guys at the bottom of the pole!
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